Much To My Delight

Much To My Delight

15 Simple Rules for Riding the New York City Subway

Because the subway has been my primary form of transportation for the past dozen years, I feel qualified to share with you what I believe are some fundamental practices when boarding a train. Before you swipe that Metrocard, I hope you’ll keep the following in mind:

Before you enter…
-You should know that no one here calls it “The El” or “The Metro”. It’s simply the subway.

-Don’t block traffic by wrapping up your phone call on the station steps. Can you really not sense the mass annoyance?

-Don’t wait to look for your Metrocard while you’re standing in front of the turnstile. Step aside and rifle through your bag out of the way of traffic. We’re very big on traffic flow here.

-Let the people off the train before getting on. You’re probably not going to get a seat anyway, so just chill out already.

For your comfort…
-Have a seat; take a load off. But please–don’t offer the seat adjacent to yours to your handbag. A purse is not a person, and it is not fatigued. Know who is? The elderly and the pregnant. Offer a seat to them instead. Always.

-Bring reading material, music, or an electronic toy of some kind. It helps pass the time and prevents you from having to make eye contact with anyone.

-If you feel claustrophobic or dizzy, try to look for a pocket of empty space. Looking straight up or straight down usually works for me. Just try really hard not to vomit. The only thing worse than a train that smells like chicken bones is a train that smells like puke. Plus, if you do vomit, be aware that the first thing 200 people are going to talk about at work is the girl who ralphed on their train this morning.

-If you’re not sure where you’re headed, ask a local for directions. Most really are friendly and willing to help. No, seriously.

For everyone else’s comfort…
-Groom yourself at home. This includes applying eyeliner, flossing teeth, clipping finger and/or toe nails, and changing a maxi-pad. I didn’t see it firsthand, but a friend of a friend of mine swears that she did.

-If you must nap, make sure you learn how to do it so that your head hangs forward. Do not nod out and nestle your head on a stranger’s shoulder. That punch in the face will wake you right up, and you need your beauty rest.

-Sing only if you have talent. Breakdance only if you are 100% positive you’re good enough to not kick someone in the genitals. Never preach, proselytize or yell about the world ending this year.

-Do not touch or expose yourself. In the same vein, do not stare at people, particularly if you look as if you may suddenly feel the need to touch or expose yourself. If you feel yourself getting too excited, repeat the following: “I am on a subway car. There is absolutely nothing sexy about this environment.”

Please be aware that…
-If it looks too good to be true–it is. When a train car is empty, it’s because there’s a homeless person who smells of sadness inside.

-Poles were designed to be shared. Don’t hug, straddle or cradle them. Not only is it selfish, it’s a terrific way to get herpes.

-Your egg sandwich tastes delicious to you but smells like a fart to everyone else.

Thank you for riding MTA. Be safe, and have a pleasant day:)

Jenn P.

30-something psychotherapist. Loves cooking, hosting parties, exploring new places. Texan by birth. New Yorker by choice. Likes to tell little stories. Pull up a chair; I'll tell you one.

  • Jacki
    Great rules – happy to recall I followed them when I was last in New York – of course this was 10 years ago, but that’s okay. Thanks for the morning laugh! :)
  • Justine Fontinell
    Genius and absolutely true.
  • Vanessa
    These are so funny. And spot on. My number one rule is Don’t Stare. My boyfriend and I almost threw down the other day because someone couldn’t obey this rule. I also hate when people file their nails. Yuck.
    Can’t believe your friend saw someone change their maxi pad! Ugh!
  • BigAppleNosh
    This is so funny, and so true! Subway pole huggers drive me crazy!
  • Astoria Girl
    LOVE IT!
  • Bianca @ Confessions of a Chocoholic
    Hi! I found your blog via Cake, Batter, and Bowl :)
    This made me laugh out loud – I’m a Bostonian but often go to New York and definitely could relate to your tips on taking the subway. Actually it applies to taking the T here too!
  • Tamra
    Hah awesome! as a new yorker, many of those things bug me, so hopefully the tips are helpful to others. xo
    Brilliant! These also apply to the Tube too, I only hope people remember to make sure they don’t smell of BO before boarding the tube on a hot summers day… can’t think of anything more off-putting or vomit-worthy! The Metro in Hong Kong is hilarious, you gotta see people RUNNING to the other side of the platform just to get a seat… or being crammed on during rush hour, eek! x.o.x.o
  • Monet
    Even though I don’t live in NYC, I found myself saying “Amen” to all these rules! I hope you are doing well. I’m enjoying an unseasonably warm night here in Austin and about to start baking a chocolate cake. Thank you for sharing another delightful post!
  • ClosetConfections
    I co-sign EVERYTHING you just shared, lol! And the lone empty subway car that reeks (or has broken AC in the summertime) is one that still manages to get me some time. I look forward to your post on taxi etiquette. ;-) Kendra
    Closet Confections – A Sweet Personal Style Blog
  • Melissa
    AMEN is right.
  • Ajlounyinjurylaw
    Great advice, I’m sure some of them are to reduce great personal injury.
  • gabrielle
    omg i really hope for your sake that the readers of your blog do not have to worry about resisting the urge to expose themselves on the train. if that is truly the case, lets go get you some new friends! hehe
  • Kate (Embarrassment of Riches)
    I’ve been meaning to write more posts like this but you have completely covered it! Genius. I’m so glad you found my blog via Vanessa’s, because now I found your blog! Did you try to add Embarrassment of Riches to your reader via my feedburner? I wonder if something is wrong with it…eep! Sorry, I’ll try to get to the bottom of it!
  • Wanna Be A Country Cleaver
    I want to make a trip to New York JUST so I can ride the train and imagine you narrating the entire experience. And I’m having flashbacks of riding the M in DC. Oi vie. ~Megan